Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology

Report of the committee

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology has the honour to present its

NINETEENTH REPORT

Your committee, to which was referred Bill C-277, An Act providing for the development of a framework on palliative care in Canada, has, in obedience to the order of reference of Tuesday, September 26, 2017, examined the said bill and now reports the same without amendment.

Your committee has also made certain observations which are appended to this report.

Respectfully submitted,

KELVIN KENNETH OGILVIE

Chair

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OBSERVATIONS
to the 19th Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs Science and Technology (Bill C-277)

Your committee is strongly supportive of the intent of Bill C-277, which calls for the development of a national palliative care framework. Members would like to emphasize the sentiment echoed by all the witnesses who appeared to testify on this bill; that a palliative care framework is urgently needed in Canada.

However, committee members are concerned that the consultations that are to be held under clause 2(1) of the bill will focus only on the participants listed within that clause. Your committee agrees with those witnesses who suggested that the stakeholders who represent the interests of patients could provide a different perspective on palliative care. In this respect, members urge the Minister of Health to permit individual patients as well as groups representing the interests and needs of palliative care recipients to participate in the development of the palliative care framework.

In addition, your committee is concerned about the lack of access to palliative care in underserved areas of Canada. As such, your committee urges the federal government to provide additional funding for the provision of in-home, palliative care services in rural, remote and indigenous communities.

Finally, some witnesses addressed the possibility of re-establishing Health Canada’s Secretariat on Palliative and End-of-Life Care, as included in clause 2(1)(g) of the bill. Your committee notes that the secretariat existed within the department between 2002 and 2007 and that the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying recommended in its report that Health Canada re-establish that secretariat. Re-establishing the office would help to bring together all stakeholders; allow all of the office’s previous work to be properly considered in the current context; and serve as a knowledge centre from which best practices can be compiled and made available through a Best Practices Portal. As such, your committee urges the federal government to re-establish the Secretariat on Palliative and End-of-Life Care within Health Canada.